When it comes to the content you create and where and when you post it, it’s important to consider your audience.On the go and always distracted, they’re often more available for a quick snack rather than an entire formal dinner party. Lower the barrier to your content’s success, and fill a spoon instead of a plate. How do that? With brief, high-impact pieces of microcontent.
Just like it sounds, microcontent focuses on small portions of a narrative, rather than telling the whole story at once. Today’s social media users simply don’t have the time, energy, or patience for a full report. They want the highlights.
Most people socially share articles because they believe in the headlines—not the actual full content, which they probably didn’t read. Playing into your audience’s short attention spans can be a challenge. But if you master microcontent, you can inform, entertain, and stun the masses all in one beautiful, short go.
Here’s why microcontent can do it all.
1. Information is easier to digest.
There’s a time and a place for longer narratives. But consider the advantage of shorter pieces as well. Online audiences are trying their best to keep their heads above water. Weigh them down with an encyclopedia, and they’re gone! Remember: Just because you have someone’s attention doesn’t mean you have to use all of it. Break it down, offer a leg up. Be Sesame Street instead of Wall Street. You’re in a very digital age; this isn’t 100 years ago when everyone thought the newspaper was a “quick read.” With microcontent, you can make learning the easiest thing in the world.
2. Microcontent is really shareable.
People enjoy getting to show or explain things to others. For me, it’s showing someone The Replacements or explaining that Batman had more than one Robin; it’s a weird sense of power. Every Facebook share or Twitter retweet quietly states, “I, like some sort of ruler of another dimension, came here to bestow this information upon you.” A piece of content that’s simple enough for anyone to understand and short enough for everyone to read offers big impact. It compels people to share that knowledge with others, and that’s digital currency. That’s microcontent; it’s practically space gold.
3. It offers more bang for its buck.
A single piece of microcontent can stand on its own or as a member of a content family (and not one of the weird ones, either). It can be the beautiful offspring of a big-scale, in-depth, super-heavy deliverable—like an annual report. Take an infographic, e-book, presentation, or blog post, and distill the bullet points and data sets into a collection of microcontent for any use case: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever. Whether it’s a single chart, picture, or sentence, microcontent can deliver a variety of value, which is something the bigger pieces can’t.
4. You can tailor microcontent to different audiences.
You’re likely not gambling your entire quarterly budget on a single piece of microcontent. These pieces are easy to produce, so you’re able to create a good number of them for a fraction of the cost. Even better: You don’t need to gear them all to tackle the same target audience, so you can diversify your reach. If you want, you can break up your microcontent pieces and charm everyone. WIth a few changes here and there, you can quickly and easily transform the content and style without taking long to do so. And that’s what you want: to be like a horse of a different color, not a one-trick pony.
5. Microcontent invites great design.
Microcontent should be a work of art. It deserves style, it needs flavor, it demands eye-catching design, and it doesn’t need words bogging it down. It’ should look like The Book of Kells, not Kerouac’s stream-of-consciousness, one-scroll manuscript for On The Road. You’re not trying to illustrate a million points, and you aren’t releasing a new book at the airport every waking second, like James Patterson. You only get one chance to snag some eyeballs in that social media feed, so make it count. This might be the only time “peacocking” is actually kind of cool (sorry, Tom Haverford).
6. It’s perfect for short attention spans.
Since 2000, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. By comparison, a goldfish is like an ivy league philosophy professor with an attention span of 9 seconds. So if you want to make a point—and make it known and learned—then make it quick. This isn’t exactly the time to grandstand. Give your audience a single stat or a data set with a few lines of context. Anything more might feel like homework. Educate your audience, but don’t overwhelm—and remember that it doesn’t take much to do that these days.
7. Creativity’s the name of the game.
Treat microcontent as a canvas, not as a sketchbook. With a single stat or set of data points, you get to go wild. Chart are the main focus in microcontent, and there are a lot of charts to choose from. There’s bar, pie, line, tree, flow, area, bubble, waterfall, radar, and pedigree, to name a few. And because the style (likely) doesn’t have to fit a larger design, you can go as corybantic as you want. Make a mess like Pollack; go mod stylish like Banksy. Heck, if you can pull it off, do up the weird like Dali. The key here is factual understandability. Microcontent just needs the select few main points, and it’s play time for everything else.
8. Vary your output—big time.
Instead of an exhibit, treat microcontent like a gallery and paint your content with broad brushstrokes of creativity. Use microcontent as an opportunity to try something new and experiment with tone and approach. Unless you’re straight-shooting for a specific brand style, go for the gold, melt it down, and strut around in that jewelry. Get funky and mix up your styles (like an west coast indie band, without any of the ego).
9. Microcontent won’t drain your time or staff resources.
Compared to just about all other information deliverable out there, microcontent takes little to complete. An analyst just needs a bit of data, a writer just needs a few sentences, a designer just needs a handful of pixels, and, finally, a publisher just needs a small batch of commentary. Sometimes, determining the basic topic can take longer than actually creating the microcontent. And all that time and effort saved goes a long way in your organization—unless you have elves. If you have elves, you’re fine; they work ‘round the clock, and labor laws don’t even apply.
10. It adds a layer to storytelling.
Imagine the impact when telling a story in person if, every time you dropped a number, a magical assistant picked it up and visualized it for you on a chart. It’d blow your audience’s mind, floor ‘em right then and there, spin their heads harder than a hundred viewings of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Donnie Darko (depending on your generation, naturally). Microcontent does that on the screen. Whereas a crafty full-length infographic tells a story with all its gravitas, detailed observation, and well-placed colorful highlights to drive home certain points, microcontent punctuates the narrative surrounding it.
11. Jump into timely conversations.
Any great time-manipulating character knows that timing is everything. From Marvel’s Quicksilver and DC’s Flash to Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger (with the Time-Turner, of course), there’s power and success in joining the fight fast and early. With microcontent, you can become a content Time Lord, quickly and effectively jump into any newsworthy conversation the moment it’s hot and happening. You can make a lasting impact with beautiful and interesting graphic content that looks like it’d take several days of work, rather than the hour or two it actually takes to create. You can drive a conversation that only just started. You can weigh in when the scale’s set. You can…finish this metaphor, you’re that good!
Tell a good story that wraps before you see a single eye roll. Microcontent is an effective way to tell your story to many, keep them interested from start to finish, and, most importantly, make it easy for them to remember what you said. It’s every skilled partygoer’s goal: Leave an impression without staying too long. Microcontent’s your key to social success.
To create branded microcontent quickly and efficiently, check out visage.co. Visage empowers your team to easily create branded visual content optimized for the distribution channels that are most important to you.